If you hit the gym often enough, you're bound to have an embarrassing moment. Think: falling off a treadmill, dropping a dumbbell or goofing up the choreography in a group fitness class. But nothing tops the red-in-the-face feeling you get when a fart slips out mid-squat.
Blowing wind on occasion usually isn't cause for concern. (Especially if it's the silent type that can't be traced back to you….) However, if exercise makes you fart like nobody's business, it's understandable that you'd be a little concerned.
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Read on to learn why you keep farting while working out and how to nip it in the bud.
2 Reasons Why You Might Have Exercise-Induced Gas
1. Working Out Stimulates Your Bowels
No, it's not just your imagination: You fart more during yoga, heavy lifting and running.
"Movement makes your bowels move and helps you pass gas," explains Peyton Berookim, MD, a gastroenterologist in Beverly Hills, California. "That's why people who are bedridden in the hospital are often constipated or bloated — because they're just lying still."
"Any exercise that creates movement through your trunk — like bending, straining or twisting — can speed up your digestive process, and that can cause gas in the digestive tract to escape at a higher rate than if you were sitting behind your desk," he says.
Take heavy lifting, for example: Many people bear down on their core and pelvic floor to help stabilize their torso when squatting and deadlifting heavy loads.
It's kind of like when you have a bowel movement or are actually trying to fart, Dr. Berookim says. That pressure may force any gas that's already in your intestines to be released. The result: Farting while working out.
2. Exercise Can Make You Swallow More Air
Another possible answer to the question "Why do I fart when I work out?" has to do with how exercise affects your breathing.
When you exercise, your heart rate climbs to pump more blood and nutrients to your working muscles. When this happens, your breathing tends to get quicker and/or heavier, and you begin breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.
"By breathing rapidly through your mouth, you swallow air that can get trapped in the stomach or intestines," Dr. Berookim says. And where does that trapped air end up going? Yep. Out the back.
This is a common reason many people complain of farting while running, but it can happen during any type of intense exercise.
Should I Be Worried About Farting in the Gym?
Letting one rip mid-squat may be wildly embarrassing — not to mention offensive to anyone unlucky enough to cross your path. However, exercise farts usually aren't a cause for concern.
Besides, passing gas is a normal, healthy thing. The truth is, you want to fart from time to time.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the average person farts eight to 14 times per day. However, farting up to 25 times is still considered normal.
If you notice that you fart super often (think: more than 25 times a day) both in and out of the gym, there may be an underlying issue at play, especially if you can't seem to control the release of gas.
According to the NIDDK, certain health conditions can make you gassier than normal, including:
Chat with your doctor if you have — or suspect you might have — one of these conditions. They may be able to help you remedy your gas problem.
Definitely get help if the gas is accompanied by pain, diarrhea or weight loss.
Sick of Farting While Working Out? Here’s How to Fix It
The truth is, you may not be able to nix gym farts entirely. However, you may be able to lower your odds of trumpeting through your workout.
Here are three exercise-fart prevention strategies to try.
1. Avoid High-Fiber Foods Just Before Exercise
Under most circumstances, you want to get fiber in your diet. Fiber — found mainly in fruits, veggies and whole grains — can help your poop schedule stay on track and boost the staying power of your meals.
But fiber-rich foods are a terrible choice for a pre-workout meal or snack. "Those foods don't get digested, especially if it's a non-soluble fiber. So it causes bloating, and the bloating can cause more gas and excessive flatulence," Dr. Berookim explains.
He suggests keeping your plate clear of high-fiber foods at least two hours before your planned workout.
2. Stick With H2O
If you're worried about gas, you may want to give pre-workout drinks, sports drinks and gels a pass and sip plain ol' water before and during your workout.
Many sports drinks and gels contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars, along with a good amount of carbohydrates. For some people, this combo can cause excessive gas, says Courtney D'Angelo, RDN, a registered dietitian at GoWellness.
Sugars like fructose (found in fruit) can be hard for many people to digest. And just consuming carbohydrates without balancing it with protein — as in a sports drink — can mess with the way those carbs get broken down. "This can lead to fermentation by gut bacteria, which can let off gas," D'Angelo says.
3. Breathe Through Your Nose (if Possible)
This may be a tough sell where exercise is concerned, but breathing through your nose instead of your mouth can help cut down on gas.
Granted, breathing through your nose may not always be doable, especially if you have sprints or heavy lifts on your calendar. Just do your best and breathe through your nose when you can.
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